Scholastic Notebook – 09/20/2013

Friday, September 20, 2013 | 5:28 PM

Now that Shai McKenzie’s football career is over, it’s time to reflect on how good of a running back he was at Washington High School. Going strictly by statistics, it’s not an overstatement to say McKenzie was one of the best of all time in the WPIAL.

McKenzie’s senior season is finished because of a torn ACL sustained in last Friday’s game against Charleroi. He was scheduled to have surgery Friday.

McKenzie finished his career with 4,856 yards on 493 carries and 77 touchdowns. The yardage is the 15th best in WPIAL history. Had he stayed healthy, there is a good chance McKenzie would have become only the fifth running back in WPIAL history to reach 6,000 career yards.

But what really tells McKenzie’s value is his yards-per-carry average. McKenzie averaged 9.8 yards for his career. Of the top 15 rushers in WPIAL history, McKenzie’s 9.8 average is the best (discounting Clairton’s Tyler Boyd, whose career carries were not available). The top two leading rushers in WPIAL history – Rushel Shell of Hopewell and Mike Vernillo of Fort Cherry – averaged 8.2 yards.

McKenzie’s yards-pery-carry average is close to 10 yards. Of the 51 players who have rushed for 4,000 career yards, only three averaged 10 yards a carry. Belle Vernon’s Nick Kalcevic averaged 10.6, Rochester’s Essex Law 10.4 and Valley’s Brandon Williams 10.2.

Central Valley Suspends Lyons

Central Valley High School has suspended coach Mark Lyons for two weeks because of his alleged contact with the parent of a player who transferred from Blackhawk to Central Valley this spring.

Lyons will coach tonight’s game against Blackhawk and the suspension starts Monday. He is not allowed to coach, attend practices or have any contact with the football team for two weeks. He will miss games against West Allegheny and Moon. The West Allegheny game next Friday is considered one of the tops in Class AAA this season. West Allegheny is No. 1 the MSA Sports AAA rankings and Central Valley No. 3.

Lyons’ suspension pertains to the case of Tyler Beatrice, a lineman who has started the first three games for Central Valley. Neither the WPIAL or Central Valley has hit Beatrice with any penalties.

Blackhawk contested the transfer, saying it was for athletic intent. The WPIAL had a hearing in May with all parties involved and ruled Beatrice eligible.

Then last month, things got interesting and the case became one of the most unusual the WPIAL has dealt with. Central Valley sent a letter to the WPIAL Board of Control, saying it had uncovered new evidence in the case. In reality, Central Valley was turning Lyons in for allegedly having contact with Beatrice’s father before the transfer. There was even a report that Lyons offered Beatrice’s father an assistant coach’s position.

Central Valley asked the WPIAL to look at the new evidence. So the WPIAL had a hearing Wednesday with Lyons and Central Valley officials. The hearing was closed but WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said the report of Lyons offering a job to Beatrice’s father was contested.

The WPIAL did not levy any penalties, saying it would be fine with what Central Valley decided to do.  On Thursday, Central Valley announced it had suspended Lyons.

Nick Perry, superintendent of Central Valley schools, issued a statement yesterday. Part of it said, “the district has and will always do the right thing as a member of good standing with the WPIAL.”

Other WPIAL News

It was a busy week for the WPIAL with hearings.

* The league’s Board of Control also had a hearing Wednesday with Khalil Caracter, who transferred from Freedom to Beaver Falls this school year. Caracter ran for 714 yards last season at Freedom and Freedom contested the transfer, saying it was for athletic intent. But the WPIAL ruled Caracter eligible. He moved in with his father in the Beaver Falls district. Caracter will be eligible either next week or the week after, depending on when a school attendance issue is worked out between Beaver Falls and Freedom.

*On Monday, the WPIAL ruled Mallory Claybourne eligible to keep playing football at Sto-Rox. He attended Perry and Renaissance Christian Academy last year before transferring to Sto-Rox. He played in the first three games under “presumptive eligibility” because he had moved into the Sto-Rox district and because the WPIAL hadn’t scheduled his hearing yet.

*After another hearing Monday, the WPIAL ruled Billy Hipp ineligible to compete in basketball this season at Greensburg Central Catholic. The league said Hipp transferred from Bishop McCort in Johnstown to Greensburg Central Catholic at least partly for athletic reasons. Hipp has played AAU basketball for Greensburg Central coach Greg Bisignani. It’s not the first time an AAU player on Bisignani’s team has transferred to Greensburg Central and his elgibility has been questioned. Hipp is a talented 6-3 guard who averaged 14 points a game last season.

Henry Moving Up

While McKenzie has grabbed most of the attention among WPIAL running backs, another one is climbing the ladder of leading rushers of all time.

Aliquippa’s Dravon Henry now has 4,379 yards, which is good for 30th on the all-time list. Barring injury, Henry should have no problem becoming the 15th to rush for 5,000 in his career.

Henry hasn’t carried much this season (13 times in three games). But how about his yards-per-carry average? It’s 21.2. He has 275 yards.

Pickens Out

Steel Valley’s D’Andre Pickens, the fourth-leading rusher in the WPIAL, will not play against Seton-LaSalle Friday night because of a sprained ankle. It is not known when he will return to the team.

Going for Two

The WPIAL Class AA boys golf championships will be Wednesday at Sewickley Heights Golf Club and Matt Barto of Leechburg will be going after his second straight title.

The WPIAL hasn’t had a repeat champion since Mike Van Sickle of Pine-Richland in 2003-04. It should be pointed out that last year was the first year of Class AA. In previous years, there was only one classification.

The first golfer to win back-to-back titles was a kid named Arnold Palmer from Latrobe in 1946-47.

The Class AAA boys championships will be the following week but there will not be a repeat champion. Pittsburgh Central Catholic’s Brent Rodgers won it last year, but didn’t make it out of sectional play this year. He shot an 83 Tuesday at Hiland Golf Course. He needed to shoot 80 to advance to the semifinals this week.

Shutout Streak

While the South Fayette football team features a high-scoring offense, another team at the school has developed a zero tolerance policy.

The South Fayette boys soccer team is 9-0 this season and has not given up a goal this season. The Lions have outscored the opposition, 39-0.

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